The famous 'Bull' outside of the Bullring, Birmingham City Centre

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping. (Bo Derek) … and they certainly didn’t know of ‘The Bullring’, the ‘shopping capital of Europe’, or so it was until it was knocked off its perch by ‘Westfield’, but we wont talk about them…

It has become a regular haunt of mine since being at uni, and so I regularly find a fitting excuse to ‘pop in’ on my way home for ‘a nose’.

And today was no exception… armed with the excuse of having to pay off the remaining balance of my impending ‘girlie jollies’, I hung around long enough afterwards to exploit the ol’ NUS and fashion a crator-sized dent in my student account!

Now according to my lecture notes, I must now make note of my experience and ‘key features’ so here goes:

  • the ‘experience’ was on the whole a most enjoyable one, being able to move freely around (for once) without having a pram rammed into the backs of my ankles or queuing so long in Boots I have to go back in for ‘Veet’. I also managed to do my ‘good deed’ for the day by being the friend that chooses ‘those pair of shoes’ that you just can’t decide on. Today, it was ‘off white’ or ‘blue/white’ heels that were (apart from the not-so-noticeable-variant-in-shade [especially in a dark nightclub]) EXACTLY THE SAME SHOE! (jess!) … but I’m a good friend and so I will not let that hour in New Look come between us…It will just go on my ‘time to claim back’ list when the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking, alongside the umpteen hours spent in crap films my boyfriend assured me would be ‘dead funny’ and endless hours spent doing maths homework in High School before realising the answers were in the back!

the levels inside The Bullring

  • in terms of key features the Bullring certainly ‘feels’ like a nice place to shop. Although you do have that ‘invisible divide of class’ as you cross the force field between ‘Burger King’ and ‘Costa’ on the ground level, moving from the Debenhams end where you can bag a bargain if your lucky … into the ‘Selfridges end’, where you may well bump into ‘that distant aunt’ from 52 MoneyBags Avenue with room for a pony! The ‘hierarchy of shopping experience’ continues as you travel up the shopping centre, moving from the likes of Pizza Hut, where you can eat until you burst at the lunch time buffet… all the way up to the heights of ‘Pizza Express‘, that sports ‘made-while-you-wait-a-lifetime-pizzas-while-nibbling-on-extortionately-priced- Apéritifs ‘ (starters to you and me!) On the bright side I suppose it does offer all walks of life a wide choice of where to shop and I certainly do a lot of the latter!

the outside of the Selfridges building in The Bullring

In contrast with 19th century shopping experience it does retain many of the same features, i.e. ‘serve yourself’, which may i add is not intended in some places (cough)Debenhams(cough), but if you don’t ‘serve yourself’ you may never BE served…

It is a stark contrast between what it is like on the ‘high street’, and you certainly feel as if you are amongst a different group of people (probably because of the hike in prices) and it is definitely more of a ‘luxurious experience’, however i would expect they still get the same problems with ‘shoplifting’ and such, if not more so.

However, it is also beginning to take steps in the way forward, as The Bullring has recently celebrated the opening of ‘The C.S.I Experience’, which isn’t a shop but an ‘interactive experience’ which shoppers can take part in for the ‘small’ price of £9 (something). Never-the-less, it does show that even thriving shopping centres such as this are starting to look at new ways of drawing in their customers in ways other than the lure of sweatshop-made-extortionately-priced-vestements!

When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping.  Men invade another country.  It’s a whole different way of thinking.  ~Elayne Boosler


Comments on: "Consumer Culture as Experience: The Bullring, Birmingham" (1)

  1. medders90 said:

    I take great offence to the apparent “umpteen hours” you have lost. I believe most of the films I have chosen you have actually enjoyed!

    Apart from that good article.

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